Midday

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Scientists have been telling us for a while that sea levels are rising as a result of climate change. Then, a few weeks ago, the world got some devastating news. The oceans may be swelling much faster than we thought. One study found that if we continue to emit greenhouse gases at the current rate, a giant ice sheet in the Antarctic could crumble, to devastating effect. Children alive today may witness a sea level increase of five or six feet. That would mean environmental devastation and the disappearance of many coastal communities. What level of sea rise is now inevitable? What can we do to prepare? And what’s in store for Maryland? We speak to John Englander, oceanographer and author of “High Tide on Main Street: Rising Sea Level and the Coming Coastal Crisis”. 

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Over the last week and a half, at least five vacant houses in Baltimore City have collapsed. The first, on March 28th, killed a man as he was sitting in his car in a vacant lot next door. The rest tumbled down during high winds last weekend. According to the Baltimore Sun, more than 500 buildings in Baltimore are considered so close to collapse that city inspectors visit them every 10 days. Many of these are row houses, making the risk of collapse extra troubling for neighbors. How common are collapses? Who owns these buildings? What is the city doing to prevent collapses, and what should the city be doing?

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One in three Americans gets less than the recommended bare minimum - 7 hours - of sleep each night. That’s according to a study released earlier this year by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Making due on just a few hours of sleep can lead to health problems such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and mood changes...yet, some wear their sleeplessness like a badge of honor. Dr. Emerson Wickwire, director of the Insomnia Program at the University of Maryland Medical Center, joins Midday to talk sleep - how much we need, why we aren’t getting enough, and what healthy sleep habits we should adopt.

Courtesy The Arc of Maryland

Thousands of people with developmental disabilities like autism or Down syndrome are on Maryland’s waitlist for services. About 100 people are considered “in crisis.” That means they lack stable housing or may be at risk of physical harm. State funds for even the most urgent cases are in jeopardy each year. What happens when a family can no longer meet the needs of a loved one with a disability? This hour the head of the non-profit Arc of Maryland tells us about past efforts to lock in funds for the developmentally disabled. And we hear from the brother of two young men with developmental disabilities. He worries about their future care. Should funding the crisis waitlist be mandatory? 

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Tens of thousands of Marylanders attend for-profit colleges or private career schools. A recent report by the Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition finds they pay more on average for their education, take out larger loans and face higher default rates than students at other institutions. Nationwide, enrollment in for-profit schools is dropping, but they still draw a lot of students. And they attract a disproportionate number of low-income and minority students. The majority of African Americans pursuing a higher education in Maryland are doing so at a for-profit institution. Are for-profit institutions predatory, plain and simple? Or do they have a role to play in our educational system?

Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

A mother sold away from her children, a husband and wife torn apart by the slave trade. During and after the Civil War, African American families struggled to find out what happened to their loved ones, hoping to one day be reunited. Their stories have been collected from newspaper ads, letters, and diary entries. We hear from a historian who has learned their stories. We also talk with a genealogist who traced her family lore and discovered a relative who had enlisted with the US Colored Infantry and escaped capture by Confederate troops. 

Revitalization without gentrification: a lot of syllables to describe an elusive goal. In urban neighborhoods, development too often means poor, usually minority residents are priced out. Cities have wrestled with this problem for decades. Now a group of Baltimore housing advocates think they have the answer. They’re asking the city to issue tens of millions of dollars in bonds in support of their plan. What’s the big fix? Community land trusts. This development model has been gaining steam in other cities. Now, as Baltimore seeks to solve the many problems it’s become famous for in the wake of the death of Freddie Gray, advocates say community land trusts are key.

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Shackled and handcuffed. Forced to strip naked in front of a stranger. Advocates are urging the Department of Juvenile Services to end the routine shackling and strip searching of youth, practices they say leave a lasting impact on children who often have histories of trauma. According to the Department of Juvenile Services, two-thirds of youth are in facilities that prohibit mechanical restraints and strip searches. But some young people, deemed low-risk enough to go home for the weekend, are shackled for transportation and face a strip search upon their return. Are these procedures necessary to ensure the safety of both youth and staff? Could alternative methods maintain security without dehumanizing young people?

Has an outfit ever given you the confidence to nail a job interview? Has a good book ever transported you to another world? This month, two local non-profits were hit with fires in the span of two days: Sharp Dressed Man and The Book Thing. Sharp Dressed Man provides professional job-interview attire for men who have been incarcerated or homeless. An electrical fire is forcing the nonprofit to relocate. The Book Thing is a popular free book exchange.

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Murderous cartels, over-incarceration, the spread of HIV and Hepatitis C: Many of our social ills are somehow related to drugs. Hence the War on Drugs. But critics say strict drug laws have done as much harm to society as the substances themselves. Now a high-profile international commission has released a report that says the same. The group of 22 medical experts is recommending the decriminalization of drug use and possession, around the world. This comes just as the United Nations prepares to convene a special session on drug policy that could shape future laws. Is decriminalization the solution? Or are we endangering youth and inviting even higher rates of addiction? Guest: Dr. Chris Beyrer, member of the Johns Hopkins-Lancet Commission on Drug Policy and Health, Director of the Johns Hopkins Training Program in HIV Epidemiology and Prevention Science, and President of the International AIDS society. 

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